UK Student Nationals 2008 - Open Boardgames
Rich P
United Kingdom
Sheffield
United Kingdom
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The 2008 UK Student National Roleplaying and Wargaming Championships took place last weekend in Sheffield to great success. Kate and I ran the Open Boardgames category, which doesn't really fit into either the Roleplaying or the Wargaming side of things, and consequently doesn't attract a huge number of entrants. But what we lack in numbers we make up for with the quality of players. Everyone involved was fun to play with, enthusiastic and a good sport, especially as they didn't know which games we were going to spring on them.

We had nine players sign up this year, but only seven turned up for the two-day event. I'm not sure what happened to the other two, but our friend Helen ably stepped in to bring our total to eight. This was a nice number for the category, as it meant that everyone would be able to play everyone else at least twice. The final player list and the universities they were representing are as follows:

Andrea - Vague (Manchester)
Andrew - Watt Gamers
Andy - Burps (Bradford)
Gwen - Edinburgh
John - Garps (Reading)
Judy - Vague (Manchester)
Sue - Garps (Reading)

After much deliberation, the scoring system for 4-player games was decided upon:

1st place - 5 points
2nd place - 3 points
3rd place - 1 point
4th place - 0 points

This list records the games played, with placings and points for each.
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1. Board Game: Ricochet Robots [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:571] [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Rich P
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Sheffield
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We kicked things off early on Saturday morning with Ricochet Robots. Everyone got to play in the same game as one group and much mind-bending frustration ensued.

The scoring system for this 7-player game was different: you got 1 tournament point for each token won, up to a maximum of 5 points.

Results:
Andrew - 4
Judy - 3
Andrea - 2
Gwen - 2
Sue - 2
Andy - 1
John - 1

(Those paying attention may notice that the points add up to 15, but there are 17 tokens in the game. It seems that two of the tokens proved so tricky to get that they were removed from the game. The intention was to put them back in later, but time constraints meant we had to move on to the next game...)
 
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2. Board Game: Die Säulen von Venedig [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:2654]
Rich P
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Time to test out everyone's German language skills. This was made a lot easier by using handy translations and player aids from BGG (thanks to BeyondMonopoly).

Results:
GAME ONE
1. Andrea (63) - 5
2. Andrew (48) - 2
2. Sue (48) - 2
4. Helen (43) - 0

GAME TWO
1. Gwen (60) - 5
2. Judy (59) - 3
3. John (50) - 1
4. Andy (44) - 0
 
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3. Board Game: Notre Dame [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:216]
Rich P
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Sheffield
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This was the other game in the second slot on Saturday morning. I learnt an interesting new strategy from Andrea, who claimed to have never played the game before!

Results:
GAME ONE
1. Andy (46) - 5
2. Judy (42) - 3
3. John (33) - 1
4. Gwen (32) - 0

GAME TWO
1. Andrea (54) - 5
2. Andrew (32) - 3
3. Sue (31) - 1
4. Helen (25) - 0
 
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4. Board Game: Vinci [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:595]
Rich P
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The groups were mixed up after lunch on Saturday, which seemed to have resulted in a slow group and a fast group! The fast group raced through this game, despite constantly invading each other instead of seeking easy victory points elsewhere. We played to a lower VP total than usual, but the slow group still only just managed to finish the game before we got thrown out of the building for the night.

Results:
GAME ONE
1. Sue (82) - 5
2. Helen (81) - 3
3. Andy (70) - 1
4. John (59) - 0

GAME TWO
1. Gwen (83) - 5
2. Andrew (75) - 3
3. Andrea (74) - 1
4. Judy (70) - 0
 
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5. Board Game: Himalaya [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:915]
Rich P
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Sheffield
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While I was witnessing unprecedented bloodshed across ancient Europe, Kate oversaw some tense yak action. No points were recorded for these games, as you just need to escape elimination to score tournament points.

Results:
GAME ONE
1. Judy - 5
2. Andrea - 3
3. Gwen - 1
4. Andrew - 0

GAME TWO
1. Andy - 5
2. Sue - 3
3. John - 1
4. Helen - 0
 
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6. Board Game: What's The Score? [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Rich P
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Sheffield
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After those games we took a break for some food, then I went to host the traditional Nationals quiz. I think we made it too difficult this year, with too many boardgame-related questions for the attending roleplayers to answer ('Who designed Puerto Rico?' stumped most teams). The top score was barely above half marks, but congratulations to the Bradford team 'Violins & Valentines' for winning it.

The scoreboard after Saturday's games looked like this:

1. Andrea - 16
2. Judy - 14
3. Gwen & Sue - 13
5. Andrew & Andy - 12
7. John - 4
 
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7. Board Game: Yspahan [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:444]
Rich P
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Sheffield
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Sunday morning began even earlier than Saturday, as the clocks had cruelly gone forward for British Summer Time. Luckily, nobody overslept and we got off to a prompt start.

This was the only dice game of the weekend and I'm not sure it even counts as one of those. The first group used the caravan lots, the second not at all.

Results:
GAME ONE
1. Gwen (71) - 5
2. Sue (62) - 3
3. Andy (61) - 1
4. Andrea (60) - 0

GAME TWO
1. Andrew (77) - 5
2. Judy (50) - 3
3. John (43) - 1
4. Helen (38) - 0
 
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8. Board Game: Space Dealer [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:1624]
Rich P
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I took out the sabotage cards and added in some extra cards from All-Zeit to make things more interesting. These were the +5 bonus for being the last to reach Tech Level 3; more Gizzi cards; the Chronosphere and the Dumpsites. The Chronosphere was a popular build, but the dumpsites were ignored. The +5 bonus swung it for the winner in both games, so maybe you need to have played the game a few times to be able to counteract this.

One odd thing I noticed while running this game: if you don't have quite enough room on the table and one player moves their planet further away from the others, psychologically it feels like their planet must be further away in the game, so fewer players visit them to trade. Hopefully this didn't have a huge effect on the scores.

Results:
GAME ONE
1. Helen (20) - 5
2. John (19) - 2
2. Judy (19) - 2
4. Andrew (17) - 0

GAME TWO
1. Andrea (22) - 5
2. Andy (17) - 2
2. Gwen (17) - 2
4. Sue (11) - 0
 
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9. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:134]
Rich P
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Sheffield
United Kingdom
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After lunch it was time for some Knizia. Ra seemed to be helping Andy build every monument that came out of the bag, but the sun god was definitely not supporting Andrew - twice he was the last one left in the epoch and twice he proceeded to pull only Ra tiles from the bag, ending the epoch without much to show for it. Perhaps this was karma for his constant suggestions that all game pieces should be laminated and/or varnished.

Results:
GAME ONE
1. Judy (59) - 5
2. Helen (25) - 3
3. Gwen (21) - 1
4. Sue (18) - 0

GAME TWO
1. Andy (64) - 5
2. Andrea (44) - 3
3. John (30) - 1
4. Andrew (24) - 0
 
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10. Board Game: Through the Desert [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:435]
Rich P
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Sheffield
United Kingdom
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Kate was in charge of the pack animals this year, running Himalaya, Yspahan and finally Through the Desert. I don't know too much about how these games went as I was busy coaching people on the finer points of correctly invoking ancient Egyptian deities. I do know that all these rules explanations left Kate and me hoarse for days afterwards.

Results:
GAME ONE
1. John (79) - 5
2. Andy (76) - 3
3. Andrew (74) - 1
4. Andrea (56) - 0

GAME TWO
1. Judy (79) - 5
2. Gwen (75) - 3
3. Sue (58) - 1
4. Helen (50) - 0
 
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11. Board Game: PitchCar [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:314]
Rich P
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Sheffield
United Kingdom
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The final game of the competition was PitchCar, with a couple of expansions to add in two jumps and a crossover. We ran time trials first, with retrials available for a charity donation. I managed the track in 21 flicks, and the competitors scored as follows:

1. Andrew (16)
2. Gwen (20)
2. Judy (20)
4. Sue (21)
5. Andy (22)
5. John (22)
7. Andrea (24)

The top four qualified for the finals and a crowd of spectators gathered to watch the race and cheer on the drivers. With everything at stake, the atmosphere was tense. A few flicks separated victory from defeat!

Results:
1. Andrew - 5
2. Gwen - 3
3. Judy - 1
4. Sue - 0
 
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12. Board Game: Brass: Lancashire [Average Rating:8.01 Overall Rank:34]
 
Rich P
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After two days of gaming, it was pretty close at the top. The final standings were as follows:

1. Judy - 30
2. Gwen - 27
3. Andrea - 24
4. Andrew & Andy - 23
6. Sue - 17
7. John - 13
(8. Helen - 11)

With 7 Nationals Points going to first place, 3 to second and 1 to third, the Open Boardgames result meant that Judy and Andrea contributed 8 points to Vague's overall total of 48. Gwen gave Edinburgh 3 of their 43 points, but Vague's 48 was enough to win them the competition. Well done to them on this long-awaited victory. Their prize is an engraved shield and the dubious honour of hosting the event next year. I'm looking forward to playing in it.

Judy mentioned that if she had a hand in organising the boardgames next year, Brass might be making an appearance. I'm not sure if she was being serious or not, but I'd better get some practice in just in case.

I'd like to thank all the players for taking part, making my life easy in running the event and for being a great bunch to play games with. Cheers and see you at the next Nationals!
 
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